foreign motoring laws - beware of greeks bearing numberplates!

travelling abroad this summer? then bear in mind that other countries' traffic regulations are often very different to our own...

foreign motoring laws - beware of greeks bearing numberplates!

Quirky road laws in other European nations have often in the past been a source of amusement for the British motorist - until a Continental cop decides to make one of them an issue.

Take holidaymakers who park a car illegally in Athens. They shouldn't be too surprised to see a policeman walking down the road with their numberplates under his arm. A trip to the police station to get them back, and pay the fine for the parking offence, is really the only option open to them. Then there are the Spanish policemen who tell bespectacled drivers to show them a spare pair of glasses: they're not joking either.

To be fair, many of these 'strange' laws actually make good sense. For instance, if drivers who wear glasses break them and don't have a spare set, they will invalidate their insurance if they get behind the wheel again. The only practical solution to such a dilemma is for drivers to carry a spare set for use in an emergency.

So take the hint: brush up on your knowledge of continental road signs before taking to the roads across the channel. Also take note of the rules of the road in different countries to avoid continental road rage and conflict with other drivers, on what should be a relaxing drive to your holiday destination. Bear in mind too that because of the relatively short distances from country to country on the continent, as a motorist heading for Southern Europe, you could find yourself travelling across two, or even three countries in a short space of time.

As well as driving on the opposite side of the road, UK motorists need to be prepared to contend with different road laws. For example, in many cities in Austria, parking measures have been enforced to help reduce congestion, meaning that drivers can only park in certain zones during stated days in the month.

It's natural to be nervous of driving in a foreign country, but motoring across the continent does not have to be a daunting experience if you prepare well in advance. It's important to share the driving as much as possible to avoid tiredness, and you should always tell your car insurer well in advance that you will be travelling abroad to ensure you have adequate insurance and motor breakdown cover.

PACK JUMPERS AND JUMP LEADS - JUST IN CASE

As over 22.5 million Britons prepare to set off on their annual UK holiday by car, a recent survey by motoring organisation Green Flag has revealed that less than half of them will pack essential items in case they break down on the way.

'While there will be few British holidaymakers who would set off on a summer holiday without packing an essential jumper, despite the expected hot weather, it appears only 48% of those setting out by car would pack a set of jump leads as well," says Green Flag. 'This is rather worrying because, despite modern technology, cars can be as unpredictable as the weather at times.'

The survey found that women were actually more likely to pack jump leads than men. Fifty three percent of the women questioned said they definitely pack them when setting off on holiday, as opposed to only 44% of men.

While the majority of drivers (69%) will it seems, prepare the car for the journey, checking the oil, water and tyre pressures, women appear to show more concern over the possibility of things going wrong on the way. As well as jump leads, more than two thirds of women (68%), that's double the number of men, would also pack a first aid kit to cope with any passenger problems en route, and 56% would take change or a phonecard for use in an emergency.

Knowing exactly where they are going is also apparently a watchword for most women, with three-quarters choosing to have their route planned for them before they set off, whilst over half the men questioned would prefer to battle it out on instinct.

Before you venture across the channel, check out the motoring requirements of the law in the countries you are intending to visit by contacting your motoring organisation or researching on the Internet. It could save you a lot of hassle and money in the long run?